Since the official opening of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, a theme often repeated in news coverage from newspapers to newsweeklies, from television newscasts to online news sites, has been how quiet this season seems.

That theme is misleading and dangerous.

It’s misleading because historical data show that the Atlantic hurricane season picks up speed and strength right about now, in the middle of August. Hurricane Dean, currently a level 3 storm ESE of Puerto Rico and heading west at about 23 mph, is right on scheduled base on historical analysis. Certainly the folks living on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago could find words to argue about how quiet this season is:

AT 1100 AM AST…1500 UTC…THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO METEOROLOGICAL
SERVICE HAS JUST CHANGED THE TROPICAL STORM WATCH TO A TROPICAL
STORM WARNING FOR GRENADA AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. A TROPICAL STORM
WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN
THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

(Source: NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL)

The “quiet hurricane season” theme is dangerous because it allows folks who are tired of hearing about hurricanes, or hurricane recovery, or FEMA, or insurance fraud, or the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, to find something else to squabble over.

Instead of shoring up levees or laying in supplies or boarding up windows — or even following storm tracks — folks dribble each day’s chance to help or get help, to tear down, to rebuild.

Don’t be deceived by the short attention span of the news media. There will always be a new earthquake (Peru), a new mining tragedy (Utah), a new business scandal (lead paint in toys from China), a new health advisory (West Nile virus in Southern California).

Hurricanes don’t listen to the news or read online news sites. Hurricanes make news.

For the latest round-up of stories related to hurricane recovery on the Gulf Coast, check out the Carnival of Hurricane Relief.

[cehwiedel also writes at cehwiedel.com]

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